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In a horrifying case that came to light recently, a 21 year old female tourist from Russia visiting the temple town of Tiruvannamalai was allegedly gang-raped by six men. The case came to light when she was bought to the hospital by one of the men, who claimed to be an acquaintance.
Though a case has been registered, the survivor is not willing to discuss the incident.
This is another addition in the growing list of reports of sexual attacks and harassment against foreign nationals visiting our country. The sad and disturbing case of Scarlett Keeling will always haunt us. A 15 year old was brutally raped and killed in Goa and her mother was unable to get justice for her. In 2017, a Swiss couple who were visiting Agra were pestered by some youths to get pictures clicked with them. When they refused, the young men turned violent and beat them up.
The government is promoting the tourism industry of our country with the ‘Incredible India’ campaign. Unfortunately, foreign travellers, especially lone women, face a lot of danger when they travel to India. Our country has the patriarchal thinking that women with ‘white skin’ is easy and available. Many Indian men somehow think that they are ‘inviting’ them, just because they dress in comfortable clothing and are friendly to local people.
There have been no concrete steps taken to ensure their safety, making them easy targets. Most tourists who are victims of such attacks are hesitant to register a case as they are in a new country and they are not familiar with the language or the legal procedures here. The dismal rate of conviction in such cases is also disheartening. There are no special helpline numbers that they can call or a special unit for them to report crimes. If the case does get registered, the legal battle drags on for years without any conclusion.
Each one of us should also personally commit to ensuring the safety of those honouring our country by visiting it. Our tourism campaign is – Atithi Dev Bhav, which means the guest is like God. We need to work together to ensure that our guests are safe and feel secure enough to travel here again.
If we see a female tourist being harassed or in a potentially dangerous situation, we must intervene and help her, especially if she is alone. If she feels threatened or has a reason to fear for her safety, we must help her reach the nearest police station and get help for her.
These small steps will go a long way in helping us becoming one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world. Let’s ensure that our guests go back home with beautiful memories and not scary nightmares.
Image via Pexels
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